When considering oral health and trips to the dentist, the focus can tend to be on preventing cavities. However, our gums and bone support are just as important to achieving overall oral health as preventing decay. Swollen or bleeding gums are not healthy and can be a sign of gum disease. Although this may be a sign of disease, there may be other causes of your bleeding gums that are not as serious.

Gums bleed when they are irritated. They are full of highly vascularized tissue so any small trauma may damage them and initiate bleeding. Your brushing and flossing technique may be too aggressive for the delicate gum tissue. Whether you choose electric or manual tooth brushes, opt for soft nylon bristles over hard bristles. Make sure to brush in a circular massaging motion and lightly touch the gums. In addition, carefully slide the floss in a c shaped motion up and down rather than forcing it straight to the bottom.

Gum disease is still the main culprit of prolonged bleeding. Simply put, healthy gums should not bleed. Most people have the less severe form of the disease called gingivitis. This is simply irritation of the gums due to plaque and tartar build up. If left untreated bone destruction can occur and the gum disease becomes a more severe form called periodontitis. This disease process can be prevented by excellent oral hygiene at home followed by regular hygiene appointments with the dentist. The overall goal is to remove plaque and bacteria so the gums can remain free of constant irritation.

Another common but less talked about reason for gums to bleed is hormonal changes during pregnancy. The rise in hormones during pregnancy or even puberty can cause increased blood flow to the gums. Pregnancy gingivitis typically starts in the second or third month of pregnancy and continues through the eighth month, causing sore, swollen, and bleeding gums.

If you have noticed your gums constantly bleeding lately after brushing and flossing it is time to make a trip to the dentist for an evaluation. The solution may be as simple as a cleaning or improving your technique at home!